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introducing myself and searching for advice


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#1
boeraliz

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Hello to all!

Maybe it is a bit off topic, but I see people with GIS working experience are gathered here, so I might give it a shot...and I really really need some advice on this one.

A bit of myself: I was studying Tourism in Romania at the Geography Dept. (dont ask, they arent related that much of course) and I had my first experience with GIS. I mean we had only 2 GIS courses, but I fell in love with it. Thats why I applied for an internship, which went very well, but in the end I didnt get hired and mainly, because I didnt have a degree in GIS.
Now I am starting my Master studies at the University of Zurich, but like I did back home at the Geography Dept. and I am afraid that it wont work out after all. I was searching for job offers and suddenly it hit me. Since I have no backgrounds in Informatics I am having doubts about finding a job basically with a Geography degree in the GIS field. Nearly every post is talking about engeneering, software developers, geomatics or cartography experience and I dont have any, what should I do?


Feel free to post any ideas, suggestions or advice. I would really appreciate it! Thank you very much!

Have a nice day,

Alice

#2
Kathi

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Hi Alice and welcome to CartoTalk!

My own experience (in Switzerland, don't know about other countries) was that in the end it's not necessarily a question of having the right degree but rather of having experience in a certain field. I have a Master in Geology but had the possibility to do a 6 month internship with the cartography department of the Swiss Army, followed by a 6 month project, all being 100% GIS work. What I know now about GIS and Cartography, I learnt there, on the job.

Then my project ran out, and I had to find a permanent job, which took me half a year. All the job posts want you to have experience in this field and that field, of course, plus an armful of connections to other people in the business. Coming fresh from University or from a different field of business or from out of the country, you can't fit all those points, obviously. So you have to apply for jobs knowing full well that you don't meet all their requirements. On the other hand the people who are looking for someone to hire also know all this, of course. And they know, too, that someone with 10 years experience and a well-established network will cost them (considerably) more than someone who just finished their degree and hasn't much of a network yet, so they might decide to hire someone "cheaper" and train that person on the job.

My advice to you is to do what you really enjoy doing at university, and do it as good as you can. If you like GIS and have tho possibility to take GIS courses, the take them. Even if you won't end up having any kind of degree, it still adds to your experience. If you have a chance to do internships, do it. And when it comes to applying for a job, don't get turned away by a job ad citing you need this or that degree, tell them what experience you have instead and that you are willing to learn. You need to boast a bit about yourself and how good you are! And don't loose hope if the first few applications will be turned down. Eventually there will be a job waiting for you. (I haven't counted, but I think it took my some 40 or 50 applications until I applied for my present position. They hired me based on a Geology degree (it's a geotechnical engineering consultant office) with no connections to the business world plus a year experience with GIS but with no degree, that was good enough. Of course the company initially had to put money into me, the first two or three months I was essentially learning and only started being productive later on. By now I have gained three more years experience in both fields and established many connections, and my boss basically told me he wouldn't let me go again...

Wish you all the best during your studies, and when it comes to apllying for a job, I wish you perseverance and luck to find what you want.
Cheers,

Kathi

#3
boeraliz

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What a worm welcome :)
Thank you very much Kathi, you made me a bit happier and more otimistic on this foggy day (at least here in Baden, Switzerland).

Take care!
Alice

#4
James Hines

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From my own experience the job market is a depressing place to search for work that seems like even if you are qualified for the position that some how you never get any responses back & therefore you ask yourself why not? And what am I doing wrong? And why the catch 22? Well I'm not here to answer those questions directly from a frustrated & severely struggling cartographer. The advice I'm about to give you is to avoid the mistakes I made over the past six years:

- much like a relationship it's never a question of when you get the job but a question of if you get the career. In other words make sure you have an alternative career in mind.

- make sure you get a temporary job & do not stop applying for that elusive job you want

- think of your current job market! Geography is important so you must decide on the question is there demand for a GIS Technician in your area, the state of the economy, & are employers willing to fork out some money to bring you to them. Most likely you will have to move to them. So do it already.

- if you get a low paying position apply for better jobs even if not one related to the field of your choice. Do not stay at a job you hate because the situation gets worse over time

- procrastination breeds failure

- good start, carto-talk is a first step in developing a network, but only a small step towards the right direction

- and if you are working in a undesirable job do not let the spirit crushing position bother you & keep your head up because your likely more qualified then most of your supervisors.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#5
boeraliz

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Thank you too!

What you wrote about jobs in general is true oh so true, but I think all of us felt the catch 22 and I would say its OK to fail on tons of job applications, but one should never stop trying.
In my opinion there is a pretty strong GIS labour market (at least when I compare it to Romania, where is almost none), but I am afraid that the majority of these positions are filled by software developers, engineers or at least someone with a strong informatics background. That is actually my concern!
Maybe its just my first impression, because I not really spoke to many who worked in the GIS field and thats why I joined cartotalk.
I will soon start my Master studies at the University of Zurich and I plan to do an internship as well, maybe after that it will be clearer for me which way to go.


Thank you again for your thoughts!

Have a nice day,

Alice

From my own experience the job market is a depressing place to search for work that seems like even if you are qualified for the position that some how you never get any responses back & therefore you ask yourself why not? And what am I doing wrong? And why the catch 22? Well I'm not here to answer those questions directly from a frustrated & severely struggling cartographer. The advice I'm about to give you is to avoid the mistakes I made over the past six years:

- much like a relationship it's never a question of when you get the job but a question of if you get the career. In other words make sure you have an alternative career in mind.

- make sure you get a temporary job & do not stop applying for that elusive job you want

- think of your current job market! Geography is important so you must decide on the question is there demand for a GIS Technician in your area, the state of the economy, & are employers willing to fork out some money to bring you to them. Most likely you will have to move to them. So do it already.

- if you get a low paying position apply for better jobs even if not one related to the field of your choice. Do not stay at a job you hate because the situation gets worse over time

- procrastination breeds failure

- good start, carto-talk is a first step in developing a network, but only a small step towards the right direction

- and if you are working in a undesirable job do not let the spirit crushing position bother you & keep your head up because your likely more qualified then most of your supervisors.



#6
Kathi

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From my own experience the job market is a depressing place to search for work that seems like even if you are qualified for the position that some how you never get any responses back & therefore you ask yourself why not? And what am I doing wrong? And why the catch 22? Well I'm not here to answer those questions directly from a frustrated & severely struggling cartographer. The advice I'm about to give you is to avoid the mistakes I made over the past six years:

...

- make sure you get a temporary job & do not stop applying for that elusive job you want

...

- if you get a low paying position apply for better jobs even if not one related to the field of your choice. Do not stay at a job you hate because the situation gets worse over time


I totally agree, it's a tough time right now to find a job. In Switzerland it's actually a bit better than in many other parts of the world, as the economic crisis hasn't hit us quite as hard as other countries.

It's also important that you keep your mind open for job opportunities in places you didn't think of. There may be jobs "hiding" in companies you woulnd't think would need someone like you. As I said before, we're a company of geologists and geotechnical engineers, but in fact one of my colleagues is a geographer with a bit of GIS experience. ;) You might want to look for large insurance companies or even banks (yes, indeed!) looking for a GIS technician...

My experience is also that the "good" jobs usually aren't advertised on the big internet platforms like job-click but more often on more specialized platforms run by professional organizations (check out the SIA, the swiss organization of engineers and architects (Schweizerischer Ingenieur- und Architektenverband)) or by the companies themselves.
Cheers,

Kathi




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